A couple of days ago we wrote about Mick Fanning’s manager’s comments after the Australian surfer had beaten off a shark attack at the J-Bay Open World Surf League event in South Africa. (Different Views of the Same Event). In that piece his manager seemed to be more concerned about Fanning continuing to surf than his clients well being.
Following the Press Conference that was held by Fanning and fellow Australian surfer Julian Wilson who paddled to his mate’s aid when the attack happened, that once again Fanning’s manager has been shown in a poor light.
Sponsors have been slammed by surf fans and the like following the clip being aired. Shortly before the press conference it has been reported that Rip Curl staff are seen attempting to make sure that Fanning wears one of its logoed caps and T-shirts before the awaiting media throng’s cameras rolled
The press conference itself has been reported as appearing to be conducted by none other than Fanning’s own media manager, Ronnie Blakey.
Sports management expert Jack Watts told marketing, media and advertising publication B&T that he felt that the whole incident on Sunday was arguably the best advertisement for the pro surfing tour ever. What has since followed has in fact done the sport more harm.
Watts was quoted as saying to B&T: “I think it’s just too early to say how it will play our for Fanning. You have to remember he could be deeply traumatised by this, he may actually never recover. Fanning and Wilson conducted themselves with the aplomb and professionalism befitting the two’s conduct thus far; however, that can’t be said for the legions of opportunists who saw the event as nothing more than a chance to get their brands and logos in front of the assembled media keen on hearing more of Fanning’s near-death moment.”
Blakey may well claim that he was simply protecting his client’s interests, Fanning reportedly pulled in $2.7 million in sponsorship money in 2014. This was money earned outside of the surf, money he earned promoting major brands such as Audi, Skullcandy head phones, Dragon sunglasses, Vertra sunscreen and the two opportunists at the press conference, Rip Curl and Red Bull.
Fairfax Media quote Andrew Hughes a lecturer at the Australian National University’s Research School of Management’s take on the issue.“The Red Bull cans and Rip Curl products that attended every corner of the stage weren’t natural. They were placed there by the brands to ensure we knew who sponsored these athletes. It was a brand message too far. A bite into the credibility of the very brands themselves. Using the media to carry the message like this went past PR and into advertising.”
Sure sport is big business these days and sure sponsors want to be sure of exposure for their product, but surely to anyone’s sensibilities this was going to far.
Fanning is bound to be having flashbacks of the terrifying ordeal he had to endure, he is also no doubt realising just how lucky he was and thinking of the unthinkable outcomes that could have prevailed. This is no time for brands who support him in his sporting career to be looking to share publicity and the limelight.
If it was indeed his manager who was pushing this brands then shame on him.